The Washington Redskins hired previous Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to replace Mike Shanahan as their head coach, so the Bengals promoted Hue Jackson in his place. Jackson, formerly the team’s running backs coach, was a solid head coach for the Oakland Raiders before the ill-fated Carson Palmer trade doomed him as the Raiders HC. He’s managed to climb back to a significant role, and he’s definitely put a huge stamp on the offense with Gruden gone, as head coach Marvin Lewis is known more for his prowess with defensive players.
Players on the Bengals offense have been raving about the differences in Jackson’s offensive scheme, and it’s especially notable to look at Giovani Bernard’s take on Jackson’s offense. Since Jackson has a strong background working with running backs, it’s safe to say that the RBs are worth watching the closest. Bernard is clearly the most talented RB on the roster, so his input is especially valuable.
Based on what Bernard says, the key thing is speed. From Bengals official site beat writer Geoff Hobson, “I think the mentality of the offense has changed. I don’t think it’s so much more, ‘We’re going to go do the play.’ I think it is a lot more tempo, tempo, tempo, and we want to play and we’re going to smash your face in.” …
Bernard’s game is based on speed, explosiveness, and agility, and the second-year UNC product can definitely bring those three skills as either a rusher or pass-catcher. His touches should go through the roof next year, and it will be interesting to see if that ends up helping him out. With a mercurial quarterback at the helm in Andy Dalton, the Bengals will run the ball frequently next season, especially since Jackson is an RB-minded HC who seems ready to take the “smash your face in” style.